Transgender fiction about the trans experience is one of the biggest gaps in the publishing industry today. Go ahead, do a Google search—hunting for books about queer teens coming out or finding first love are becoming more frequent, and there are autobiographies from Janet Mock, Laura Jane Grace, and Jazz Jennings—but in terms of transgender fiction, it’s a pretty small market, especially from larger publishing houses. This is an issue we need to face. Trans stories always seem to be a second thought, pushed aside in favor of more palatable narratives that fall under the broader LGBTQ+ heading.
But these stories are vital, especially to trans people who struggle to see themselves represented in media. It is important to look at stories geared towards all ages, and encompassing a wide range of experiences and genres. The trans experience is not a monolith, and neither is fiction.
If you’re looking for your next diverse read or just something to help you feel less alone, here are some books written by trans authors, with trans characters.
Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finny Boylan
Jennifer Finny Boylan is also the author of a few iconic memoirs dealing with gender and sexuality, including She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Long Black Veil begins with a tragedy that effects the lives of six friends. Later in their lives, new evidence threatens to put one of them in prison, and threatens to expose a secret that has long been kept hidden. The story deals mostly with identity and the issue of transitioning. Boylan is an expert writer, and this one won’t be what you expect it to be.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
One for the YA crowd, If I Was Your Girl is a sweet story about a girl who is starting at a new school after transitioning. It deals with her family’s hesitation but ultimate acceptance and love, as well as navigating high school, young love, and mental health. This book is a perfect YA novel on many levels, and gives a beautiful and gentle insight into the trans experience. More than anything, this story highlights the importance of being able to exist as your truest self.
Little Fish by Casey Plett
Little Fish is a story about a 30-year-old trans woman, Wendy, who finds out her grandfather might have also been trans, and sets to work discovering more about his life in an attempt to better understand her own. A Lambda Award winner, this book presents a complex and emotional story about family and personal history, and how vital it is that these narratives be told. Plett also has several other books with trans characters, including A Safe Girl to Love.
Nevada by Imogen Binnie
Nevada is the debut novel by Imogen Binnie, and follows the introspective inner-monologue of New York City punk Maria. When her girlfriend reveals that she’s been cheating, Maria goes on a journey of self-exploration as she drives from New York to Nevada. It’s gritty, funny, and very real. While this might not be one for the faint-hearted (in a drugs, sex, rock&roll kind of way), it’s definitely a wild ride and worth the read.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
We love a retelling, and Peter Darling is no exception. This one reimagines Peter Pan as trans (and it fits, really—a character who doesn’t want to grow up to be a man) and returning to Neverland as an adult. There is also the always wonderful enemies-to-lovers trope as Peter’s relationship with Captain Hook shifts. Honestly, I’m not sure what more you could want.
Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
A complex novel about grief, love, and home, Small Beauty follows Chinese Canadian trans woman Xiao Mei after the loss of her cousin. The story is melancholy and beautiful, and is filled with elements of magical realism and folklore. The novel muses on gender and trans existence, positioning Xiao Mei as part of a larger trans sisterhood and community.
Looking for more transgender fiction? Check out Affirming Trans Books for Trans Visibility Day and Beyond and 17 Trans And Gender-Creative Books For Preschoolers.